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Putin might want to punish Shoigu for not achieving Kremlin's military goals - ISW

Putin might want to punish Shoigu for not achieving Kremlin's military goals - ISW Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (
Author: Maria Kholina

Recent events in Russia suggest that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin may be seeking to reduce the power of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, possibly to punish him for failing to achieve the military goals of the Kremlin, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Analysts at the Institute point to Putin's meeting on May 2 with the governor of the Tula region, Alexei Dyumin, who has repeatedly sided with the owner of the private military company Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in 2022 and 2023, seeking to promote dismissals within the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Dyumin assured Putin of his support for arms production and the support of Russia's military-industrial complex, particularly in the construction of new enterprises. ISW sees this as an attempt to win the dictator's favor and speculate that Dyumin may hope to replace Shoigu as head of the Ministry of Defense.

The ISW suggests that Putin may have deliberately publicized his meeting with Dyumin after the high-profile arrest of Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov and ahead of the "president's inauguration" on May 7. The possible aim is to punish the Ministry of Defense for failing to achieve the military goals of the Kremlin.

This meeting has caused a significant resonance in the Russian information space. Some Russian sources speculate that the Kremlin may appoint Dyumin to a new position related to the Russian industrial complex.

ISW also noted Shoigu's statement on May 1 which said that Russia needs to increase the quantity and quality of weapons and military equipment to maintain the necessary pace of advancement. Analysts believe this could be a direct attack on certain Russian political figures to shift responsibility for failures on the front lines onto them.

Shoigu had particularly close relations with Ivanov, and the arrest of Ivanov, along with Dyumin's sudden resurgence in popularity, may indicate Kremlin dissatisfaction with Shoigu's performance.

Arrest of Shoigu's deputy

Ivanov was arrested on April 23 on suspicion of bribery. He is currently in pre-trial detention.

Russian media reported that Ivanov was allegedly arrested for treason. The Kremlin has not commented on this.

The Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom believes that the case against Ivanov may also affect other Russian officials.